UCAS personal statement writing guide and tips for success

UCAS Personal Statement: A Writing Guide And Tips For Success

UCAS personal statement is one of the most important parts of student application when applying to a university in the UK. It is the first “contact” between you and admission tutors. 

Read our detailed guide on how to write a UCAS personal statement with these extra tips. And, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

What is a UCAS Personal Statement?

UCAS personal statement is your cover letter. As the name suggests, this is a personal letter in which you will explain which courses interest you and why. 

This letter allows you to express your point of view on the disciplines you want, show your enthusiasm and explain what are your skills and qualities to join the desired program.

Your personal statement for UCAS reflects your personality and your ambitions. It must therefore be sincere and authentic, and above all unique. Don’t copy someone else’s and doesn’t lie about your skills and accomplishments. 

Of course, you have to show off, without exaggerating or appearing arrogant. It is quite simply a question of explaining the reasons which lead you to submit your UCAS application as well as your professional project while demonstrating your past experiences. 

Both professional and personal, have given you all the keys to succeed in the courses in which you are interested.

How to write a UCAS Personal Statement?

Your Personal Statement for UCAS is an essential element of your application, so you have to take good care of it.

Start early

Don’t underestimate the time you will need to pass your paper, especially if English is not your first language. 

So start gathering your ideas as soon as possible so you don’t forget anything. The earlier you become interested in your letter, the more time you will have to proofread, correct and refine your text. 

You will have to take the time to work on your English so as not to miss any mistakes.

Use the official documentation made available to you

Whether on the UCAS site or the site of the university you are targeting, documentation is available to you.

If you don’t know where to start, reading the descriptions of the courses you have chosen, in particular using the search tool available on the UCAS website, can be a good starting point. 

This will help you understand what skills and qualities are needed to be selected. Also, ask yourself about the reasons that lead you to choose these disciplines to show your enthusiasm and the consistency of your career. 

Making a table in two columns can help you more easily match your skills, qualifications and qualities with the conditions and requirements needed to join the course of your choice.

The UCAS site has published a small guide online in the form of a worksheet to be completed to help you determine what you can include in your Personal Statement. By answering the questions, you will have a good overview of the elements that you will have to put forward.

Ask for help from your friends and family 

If you can’t find qualities about yourself, what better way than to ask those close to you for their perspective? Your friends and family could certainly give you ideas and a different approach to your skills or what they admire about you.

The student chat rooms are also a great tool for connecting with students. Do not hesitate to ask them about the courses and universities they have chosen to get more information. Having successfully applied themselves, they will be in the best position to give you advice.

Find out directly from the source

Have you chosen your course carefully but are confused about the expectations of professors and admissions boards? 

Open Days are organised every year to allow you to go directly to the campuses to visit and obtain information on the courses. On UCAS, a search tool allows you to easily find open days at universities.

Take care of your English

It’s no secret that your style and your English must be impeccable. A relevant cover letter loses all its impact if it is full of spelling mistakes.

If English is not your mother tongue, it is important to show that you have a sufficient level and that you can express yourself correctly in this language. 

Don’t try to write with simplified turns of phrase: simplicity and conciseness are your best friends. Short, well-constructed sentences are the surest way to make yourself understood.

Choose your words carefully, and if in doubt, the dictionary is a safe source. In the Oxford directory, you will also find concrete examples to show you in which context you can use terms or expressions.

If you do not have the possibility of being corrected by a native, do not panic! There are proofreaders online who can help you. If these tools are not infallible, they can at least help you spot mistakes or improbable turns of phrases. 

Get reconnected

A good personal statement is not written all at once. You will have to be patient and ask your loved ones to proofread you to eliminate as many mistakes as possible but also to advise you on the merits. If you know any, ask an English speaker to correct you.

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Structure UCAS Personal statement

To keep the content understandable, you have to take care of the structure of your Personal Statement for UCAS by including an introduction, paragraphs in the body of the text and a conclusion. 

Keep in mind you are limited to 47 lines or 4000 characters on UCAS. Line breaks and spaces matter, so you may be tempted to limit your paragraphs to save space. Don’t! Air your content by dividing it, it will be clearer and easier to read.

Build a plan

Before you start writing, put your ideas together by building an outline that will serve to guide you and draw the general look of your letter. There is no standard template to follow, the objective is only to show the relevance of your background and your motivation. Follow your logic but make sure that the sequence of your arguments is coherent for someone who does not know you. Be sure to order your ideas.

How to start a UCAS personal statement?

You need to open a personal statement with an original catchphrase that will make the recruiter want to read more. 

It briefly explains which discipline you want to study and why.

This personal statement example shows how a candidate can draw on personal experience to explain their desire to study sustainable development, with an impactful catchphrase:

I realised the importance of my passion for sustainable development when I with my family visited the waste-site Capricorn in South Africa. Capricorn is a one million metric tons waste site and home for about 50,000 people. Experiencing the huge volumes of waste and the appalling living standards of its inhabitants had an enormous impact on me and helped me recognise the necessity of resolving the coming issue of waste.

Cut the body of your text into different paragraphs including your professional experiences, your extracurricular activities, your studies, your future projects, your interests or your hobbies, if they are relevant to justify the choice of the sector you want to integrate.

Keep one key idea per paragraph to stay clear. Illustrate each of your ideas with concrete examples to support your point and show the logic of your journey.

The conclusion of the personal statement

Finally, your conclusion should summarise what you can bring by joining the targeted program. Highlight the main reasons that make you a suitable student for the chosen course or that show your interest and passion for this subject.

Content of the UCAS Personal Statement

As said before, UCAS Personal Statement should state your background and show how passionate you are about the courses you want to study. It will therefore be a question of mentioning all the relevant elements that can support this passion and show your enthusiasm.

Since you are applying to universities through UCAS, do not name any particular university. It is better to stay general and only mention the disciplines you want to study.

To help you, we have also put together some inspiring Personal Statement examples.

Reasons why you want to study in the UK

As a student, it is important to justify your choice to study abroad, and more particularly in the United Kingdom. Why do you want to become a student? Why not start a job? Do not hesitate to explain the reasons that lead you to choose this country rather than another and all the positive points that you see there.

Also justify your level of English if you can, to show your mastery of the language. If you have taken tests such as the TOEFL, TOEIC or Cambridge Certificate, indicate the results you obtained.

Your motivations

Explaining why you want to study the chosen courses and how this appetite for these disciplines has developed will give depth to your letter. 

These are essential elements to show in your UCAS Personal Statement. University staff, to select students, need to understand what motivates them. 

You are unique, so your reasons are too and are unique to you. Avoid clichés and platitudes; on the contrary, put yourself forward personally. 

You can also talk about what you understand about the courses and the topics that will be covered, and talk about your interests.

Your professional project

If you see further and you already have projects that will be the culmination of your studies, do not hesitate to describe them. This will support your motivations and show that you are sure of yourself and what you want to do.

School career

You can indicate everything relevant, such as your mention in the Baccalaureate. The projects you were able to carry out during your schooling, your taste for certain subjects, and your choices of orientation or specialities and options.

Show that your choice of studies today is the result of your previous journey and is only the logical continuation. 

Your extracurricular activities

Sport, music, arts… your hobbies can say a lot about you, your abilities and your interests and give additional indications to recruiters. If you practice activities, you can mention them if you believe that they will be able to support your choices and your UCAS application. Show the qualities and skills they have brought to you.

Your professional or volunteer experience

Whether you have worked or are involved with an association, for example, professional experience can be an important point in your UCAS personal statement.

If you are a volunteer for an association or organisation, describe your missions and the reasons for your commitment. 

You can once again highlight everything you have been able to acquire during your experience, be it abilities, skills, qualities or even revelations about yourself and the world around you. 

Explain how these newly acquired qualities will be useful to you as a student at a UK university, in the course you want.

The same goes for purely professional experiences, which can serve as concrete examples to show your motivation, your determination or your passion. 

Even if your experiences have no direct link with the subject you want to study, you can find transversal skills, that is to say, knowledge or know-how that can still be used in your university course.

Anything that may be relevant

A book, a trip, an event, a meeting. What has marked your life and drawn your desire to study a particular discipline has value. 

Tell in all sincerity what captivates you and shapes you, your authenticity will have every chance of making a strong impression on your reader. Be real and positive.

To conclude with these tips

With these personal statement tips, you now have all the tools to get started with writing. To increase your chances and apply to the university of your choice, start preparing as soon as possible.

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